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Arts Preview: Photographer South Ho shoots the neighbourhood

Edmund Lee

 

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Blindspot Gallery

 

South Ho Siu-nam moved to Tin Shui Wai for a change of scenery after his father passed away. Over the past five years, the 29-year-old photographer has made a name for himself with artworks that draw on this neighbourhood for inspiration.

His use of the square format – in particular the 6x6 camera – has earned him the nickname of “SixSix Ho”.

“Some friends do call me by that name, especially those who speak Putonghua because SixSix sounds like ‘Lulu’ in that language,” he says.

For Into Light, his most well-known series, Ho started by taking black-and-white photographs of deserted pedestrian tunnels mainly in Tin Shui Wai.

The overexposed photos were then put through the traditional silver halide process and turned into stunning, tranquil images.

His latest solo exhibition incorporates painting for the first time among his published work.

Ho admits he’s not much of a painter yet – “I’ve done my best but [my painting technique] is probably not that fine in the eyes of other artists.”

Even so, his new series has a poignancy, thanks to the personal sentiments he expresses in it.

“My father used to work in advertising. He would do the graphics for newspaper advertisements,” says Ho, adding that he is reminded of his father every time he looks at his paintbrushes, pencils, and camera.

“I remember seeing him at work in his office when I was small.

It was before the days of computer graphics. The way he would draw with his bare hands, sometimes cutting and pasting images together, was miraculous.”

As a tribute to his late father, Ho took black-and-white photos of scenes in Tin Shui Wai, printed them out on an inkjet printer, and applied blocks of watercolour onto the sky of the landscapes.

To distance himself from the decision-making processes of creating the work, Ho threw a dice to choose the colour of the blocks.

Ho says this new-found practice of painting on his photographs “is not my artistic objective. But it definitely fulfils a desire of mine. I want to put the remaining memories of my father into my work.”

edmund.lee@scmp.com

 

Blindspot Gallery, 24-26A, Aberdeen Street, Central, Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm, September 4-28. Inquiries: 2517 6238

 

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